Carthage will hold a series of events in 2021 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the graduation of the College’s first Black graduate, Lorraine Wiggan, who received her diploma at Carthage’s 1946 Commencement.
Throughout 2021, Carthage will pay tribute to the generations of Black Carthage students who, since 1946, have attained and contributed extraordinary levels of achievement in academics, co-curricular activities, scholarly work, and volunteerism; and celebrate our Black alumni, who have achieved excellence in professional careers across every industry and in countless other ways.
75 Years of Black Excellence will lift up Black communities and voices, and cherish, embrace, and celebrate Black contributions to our beloved Carthage community. The yearlong celebration will include special events during Homecoming Weekend Oct. 14-17, 2021.
Events are being planned by the offices of Equity and Inclusion and Institutional Advancement, in collaboration with Carthage students, the Black Student Union, and the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network.
In spring, the Carthage Board of Trustees passed a resolution to recognize 75 Years of Black Excellence. The board enthusiastically celebrates the achievements of Black alumni over that span and recognizes 75 Years of Black Excellence as a compelling and important means to bring Carthaginians together, both to celebrate the achievements of the past and to inspire the achievements of the future.
About Lorraine Wiggan
The first in her family to attend college, Lorraine Wiggan ’46 majored in music at Carthage, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She went on to teach music and conduct a children’s choir in Edwards, Mississippi, before taking her work to Puerto Rico, where she served in rural parishes for five years.
Over the next 14 years, she served as an organist, established choirs, and extended musical horizons for many Lutheran communities in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Camden, New Jersey; Chicago; and Brooklyn, New York. She earned a master’s degree in music education from Columbia University, with additional study at The Juilliard School. Her Carthage legacy continued when her nieces, Karen Thomas Garrett ’75 and Chief Judge Cynthia Thomas Walker ’78, graduated from Carthage more than three decades later.
About the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network
The Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network is a group of committed Carthage alumni who have joined with Carthage faculty and staff to increase enrollment of students of color, and to secure the resources necessary to provide these students with the support they need to persevere to graduation and fulfill their post-graduation goals. Priorities for the W-K Network include fundraising, mentoring, connecting students to internships and other career opportunities, and advocating on their behalf.
In March 2018, the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network established two Wiggan-Kenniebrew Funds: The Wiggan-Kenniebrew Endowed Scholarship Fund provides scholarships for multicultural students. The Wiggan-Kenniebrew Experiential Learning Fund provides support for multicultural students to participate in co-curricular experiential learning opportunities not funded through tuition, such as travel abroad, workshops, conferences, internships, research, and more.
Spring 2021 Events
The Carthage Office of Equity and Inclusion launched the 75 Years of Black Excellence celebration in Spring 2021. Activities included:
- Java & Justice events with Carthage Black Alumni Network members Veronica Moore ’05 and Dominique Pritchett ’07.
- Black History Month events inspired by the theme of “75 Years of Black Excellence.”
- The development of “Black at Carthage,” a networking group of current students, faculty, staff, and alumni who gathered weekly throughout the spring to connect and forge networking relationships.
- The College’s first “Black Graduates Ceremony” program for graduating seniors.
- A Carthage Giving Day challenge that raised more than $5,000 to support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campus through a gift to the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Scholarship Funds, the Intercultural Center, or the Urban Teacher Prep Program.
Fall and Winter 2021 Events
Watch this website and The Bridge for news of additional 75 Years of Black Excellence events and activities throughout Fall 2021, including special events during Homecoming Weekend Oct. 14-17, 2021. A ceremony on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 17, 2022, will conclude the celebration.